BH-1EC018: Bronze Age Lunula fragment

Rights Holder: St. Albans District Council
CC License:

Image use policy

Our images can be used under a CC BY attribution licence (unless stated otherwise).


Unique ID: BH-1EC018

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

Description A crumpled and torn fragment of sheet gold with engraved geometric decoration comprising three bands of double zigzags separated by two plain zones; the zones are each bounded by three longitudinal engraved lines and the edges by four. The decoration is well executed. Two straight edges are present and these appear to be parallel.

Maximum dimensions: Length 25.5mm; Width 12.2mm; Thickness 0.1mm; Weight 1.35 grams. The width when intact would be approximately 22mm.

Analysis: Non-destructive X-ray fluorescence analysis of the surface of a fragment of sheet gold ornament with incised geometric decoration carried out by the British Museum's Department of Conservation and Scientific Research, indicated a gold content of 86-88%, a silver content of approximately 10-11%, the remainder being copper. The sheet fragment weighs 1.35 grams..

Identification: The parallel edges and orientation of the decoration indicate that this is not a lunula fragment. The restored width is more in keeping with an armlet. The best analogues are all copper alloy armlets belonging to Needham's Group 1 (Needham 2000, 29). These are penannular sheet metal bands, three of which are narrow and three broad. One of the former is plain but the other five have geometric decoration; the broader examples (27, 21 and 37mm) particularly bearing zones and panels of motifs resembling decoration on Beaker pottery; one of them, from Knipton in Leicestershire, was associated with a Beaker but not with human remains. Another from a Normanton barrow (Amesbury G41) was found on the arm of a skeleton (Waterman 1948, 180) but has no other associations. The Knipton Beaker is not amongst the earliest. The number of Group 1 armlets is small, and contextual information is scanty. Needham's assessment acknowledges the difficulties involved in establishing a chronology for his Groups 1 and 2 armlets. A date in the Early Bronze Age, not before circa 2200BC, appears likeliest at present.

References: Needham, S. 2000. The gold and copper metalwork. In Hughes, G. The Lockington Gold Hoard: An Early Bronze Age barrow cemetery at Lockington, Leicestershire. Oxbow Books, Oxford, 23-46. Waterman, D. M. 1948. An Early Bronze Age bracelet from Bridlington, Yorkshire. Antiquaries Journal 28, 179-180. Gillian Varndell Curator, Department of Prehistory and Europe 26.02.13


As the object is prehistoric and contains precious metal it qualifies as Treasure under the stipulations of the Treasure Designation Order 2002.

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: The British Museum
Subsequent action after recording: Acquired by museum after being declared Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2012T441


Broad period: BRONZE AGE
Subperiod from: Early
Period from: BRONZE AGE
Subperiod to: Early
Period to: BRONZE AGE
Date from: Circa 2200 BC
Date to: Circa 1900 BC

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 25.5 mm
Width: 12.2 mm
Thickness: 0.1 mm
Weight: 1.35 g

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mr Julian Watters
Identified by: Mr Julian Watters

Other reference numbers

Treasure case number: 2012T441

Materials and construction

Primary material: Gold
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: Eastern (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Central Bedfordshire (Unitary Authority)
District: Central Bedfordshire (Unitary Authority)
Parish or ward: Battlesden (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SP9627
Four figure Latitude: 51.93324113
Four figure longitude: -0.60510572
1:25K map: SP9627
1:10K map: SP92NE
Grid reference source: From finder
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Current location: The British Museum

References cited

No references cited so far.

Similar objects

Find number: YORYM-80ADC9
Object type: ARMLET
Broadperiod: BRONZE AGE
TREASURE CASE : 2016 T683. A largely complete but damaged gold armlet of Early Bronze Age date, c. 2100 BC - 1900 BC. It is decorated with em…
Workflow: Awaiting validationFind awaiting validation

Find number: BERK-0D1A05
Object type: JEWELLERY
Broadperiod: BRONZE AGE
A Copper Age (Chalcolithic) gold 'basket ornament', possibly a hair ornament or ear ring, cut from thin gold sheet into an elongated oval sha…
Workflow: PublishedFind published

Find number: DUR-A24C08
Object type: LUNULA
Broadperiod: BRONZE AGE
The lunula is in two parts and nearly complete, only missing one of the circular terminals. The object is made of gold and so the precious me…
Workflow: PublishedFind published

Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: BH
Created: 6 years ago
Updated: About one year ago

Other formats: this page is available as qrcode json xml geojson pdf rdf representations.